Tag Archives: faith

A Thing or Two About Dependence

There’s nothing quite like being sick or injured to remind you how utterly dependent we are upon others.  Though this bout of sickness was not severe, the fact that I was on the road away from home and living in the homes of friends highlighted the need for others in our lives and for not being alone.

We need people around us who are strong when we are weak, and can help pull us up when we’ve fallen down.  And we need to do the same for others.  We often think of this in spiritual terms, but it is also very true in physical terms.  We need each other and sometimes it takes sickness or illness to remind us that we can’t and shouldn’t try to live this life all on our own.  This dependence on others also points me to an even greater dependence in my life:  my dependence on God.

Everything I am, everything I have is all because of God.  Without His presence in my life and without His working in it, I don’t know if I would even be alive today.  At the very least, I would be a very different person.  I am dependent on God for more things than I even realize.  Being sick highlights a glimpse of the number of things that have to “go right” for our bodies to function “normally”.  I am thankful that in my dependence I can rely on the Dependable One and those in the family of God!  It is a great comfort indeed!

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How do we View Success?

This world defines success in a number of ways, but these all seem to center around accomplishments, achievements, power, clout, and other outward gains.  All too often these same ideas form the basis of what we think of as “successful” in the church as well.  We can be overcome by the pressure to move up the rungs of the leadership ladder, desiring more recognition for our service, wanting more atendees than that other church down the road, or a bigger paycheck at the end of each month.  Truly it is difficult to keep clear of what our culture deems necessary for success.

We who are in Christ have a different definition of success laid before us.  The Gospel shows us this in our Savior, Jesus.  He was a homeless man, who was hated by the religious leaders of His day, was falsely accused of many crimes (chiefly blasphemy), and died a criminal’s death.  This is NOT exactly what we think of when we think of a successful person.  No employer would pick this man to be the next president of their company.  Yet Christ accomplished His Father’s will on earth.  He did what He came to do- what He was born to do!  He finished His work on earth completely, leaving nothing undone or unfulfilled which was spoken of Him through the prophets.

In light of this reality, we must decide how we will define success.  Will we define it the way the world does or think of success as we see it in Christ and His Kingdom?  Will success become for us something we can measure on paper or with temporary pleasures, or will we embrace a view of success in which the chief aim is obeying God regardless of the outcome?  This approach to success may bring us ridicule and may not be glamorous, but if we are being obedient to our King it is worth it.

I would rather be successful and faithful in the eyes of my God, than successful and having all the money and acolades this world can offer.

In the words of an old hymn:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace”

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Thoughts on Acts 3

This devotion comes from Acts 3 (quotations are from the NIV)

In Acts 3 we see that Peter and John were still going to the temple for prayer. They did not disconnect from their own people, but were still trying to reach them. Beggers would have been a common sight outside the temple, counting on the giving of devout Jews to be able to survive. The begger in Acts 3 does what we would expect: asks for money. Though Peter and John did not have money to give this man, they did not just go on their way ignoring him. Instead, Peter stopped and said (in verse 6), “Silver or Gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” The man was healed by the power of Christ. Peter used the authority of Jesus- in His name- to ask in faith for healing for this man.

The man, who had been crippled since birth, received many wonderful blessings that day. Not only was he able to walk, but because he was healed he was able to enter the temple courts for the first time. He also heard Peter preach about Jesus.

The crowd was amazed by this healing. Peter was sure to deflect their amazement and wonder to the one to whom it was due: the Lord Jesus. It was God who healed this man and by His power, not anything Peter or John did, but by “Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him (3:6b)”. The situation became an opportunity to glorify Christ and to share the Gospel with all who were there.

Our service should not only use what we have to give, but be done through God’s power, by faith in Jesus Christ and His power to save. Even if we have “nothing” to give, like Peter and John with the crippled man in Acts 3, we who are part of God’s family have Jesus and the Gospel that we can share. We can use our service as a way to share the Gospel with others—to share the love of God and hope we have as God’s children, forgiven of our sins. The gift of Jesus and through Him the forgiveness of sin is the greatest gift ever, but many times people will be more ready to listen if we serve them in other ways as well.

May we all be challenged to give what we have and use what we have to share the Gospel with those we serve.

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On Saying Goodbye

Goodbyes are never easy, no matter how they come, but this is especially the case when it comes to what some may call “the final goodbye”.  Yet when the “goodbye” is directed to someone who has had a long battle with cancer and to a fellow believer, the “goodbye” can become bittersweet.  It seems like that time is near once again for my family as we prepare to say “goodbye” to a beloved uncle.

We grieve, but not as those without hope (see 1 Thess 4:13-14).  No indeed, for we have the greatest hope of all–that because of Christ we will see my uncle again in heaven.  My uncle gets the best part of it because he gets to see Jesus before the rest of us.  He gets to go where God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4).

Our goodbyes will not be final, for we will see my uncle again, and when we do, there will be no more goodbyes.  One of my favorite applications for “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”  (2 Pt 3:8) is one that the pastor at our church has said, “no sooner than when he gets there and see Jesus, will he turn around to find us all standing there with him.”  What a glorious thought!  It calls to mind lyrics from an old hymn:  “When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be!  When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”

Indeed, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, death has been swallowed up in victory.  In the words of another song, “The victory is won and the grave is overwhelmed”.  We can have joy, we can have hope because of Christ!  He has conquered sin and death, making a way for sinful men and women to be made right with God.  For this reason, my uncle, indeed all us who are in Christ, may say “‘Death is swallowed up in victory. / ‘O death, where is your victory? / O death, where is your sting?'” (1 Cor 15:54b-55)

Yet even with all of the joy and hope we have in Christ in the midst of this, it is still hard on those who will remain on earth to tarry a while longer here.  Perhaps the death of a loved one is hardest on those who survive them.  They feel a pain of searing loss.  I think that these people are very near to the heart of God.

I consider the cross of Jesus.  God the Father had to bare the loss of His one and only begotten Son.  He had to turn His face away from His own Son because of the sin that Jesus took upon His own shoulders.  The Father bore the loss even as it was the will of God to crush Him (see Is 53:10).  But because of the loss that occurred at Calvary, followed by the resurrection, we can have confidence that my uncle will go to be in heaven with his Lord, Savior, and Master–Jesus Christ.

Yes, I do think that those going through the pain of loss are near to the heart of God.  “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted / and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18).  For those who survive my uncle, I pray that this will be an overwhelming reality in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.  I pray that God would make His presence evident.  I pray that God would continue to receive the glory in all of this.  Such has been my prayer from the beginning of my uncle’s battle with cancer: that the Lord would be glorified in the process as well as the outcome.

It seems that God has chosen to call one of His faithful servants home to be with Him in glory.  He has fought the good fight, he has run his race well, and he has kept the faith (see 2 Tim 4:7).  He has honored his Lord with his life and advanced the Kingdom of God here on earth.  I hope that in my lifetime I can follow my uncle’s example in following Christ and be more like them both.

I will miss him greatly, as many will, but I’ll see him on the other side.  For this reason, I do not say “goodbye”, but rather, “see you later”.

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